Thursday, 2 June 2011


Tim Love has posted a positive and thought-provoking review of Inventing truth on his Lit Refs Reviews blog, expressing doubts about my constant brevity and use of syllabics, yet also very much enjoying certain poems. He states that "they have the Larkinesque lift that gives the reader the escape velocity to be launched beyond the text."

I always relish reading his pieces, as they pull no punches and state clear views, enabling me to react and reassess my views of the poetry in question. In this case, of course, my feelings are intensified because he's dealing with my own book!

I was especially intrigued by his conviction that "nostalgia...comes through in many pieces." This led me to my dictionary in search of a definition:

"Sentimental yearning for a period of the past; wistful memory of an earlier time".

For me, the key words here are "sentimental" and "wistful" - one of my main aims is to avoid both in my treatment of the past and the U.K.. I'm all too aware that these feelings are typical in many ex-pats and I'm thus determined to dodge such a trap. What's more, I believe the added perspective of Spain casts an extra ambiguity and ambivalence over my memories, rather than lending them a rose-tinted hue. "Nostalgia" is the last word I'd use to describe my work!

This leaves me with a key doubt: why does Love invoke the term? In other words, I've discovered an intrinsic value to such a generously forthright review. I'll now reread Inventing truth in the light of his remarks. Whether I agree or disagree with his views of the book, they'll provide a wonderful basis for further thought. I'm extremely thankful to him!


  1. Perhaps using the word "nostalgia" was a bit careless of me. It's just that there are some things (Dinky cars and Bagpuss, for example, or Ready Brek, or going to matches with dad) which it's hard to mention without being suspected of lovingly recalling, of groping for an old happiness, if only momentarily.

  2. Hi Tim,

    Thanks for posting your comment - I really am grateful for your review. I understand more and more what you mean by your use of "nostalgia", but it's very much a loaded term for me and one that I'm on guard against.

    You quoted a piece from Sphinx that referred to "elegiac pangs", and that ambivalent mixture is the tone I try to strike, as in the example of Ready Brek - I could never stand the stuff and associate it with grim winter mornings!